Facebook Unveils Facebook-Studio, a Stand-Alone Community for Advertisers

Last week, Facebook launched a stand-alone community site for the advertising community that is increasingly looking to spend brand dollars on the Facebook platform.

Reflecting the essence of its social networking DNA, the site allows advertisers to share the work they’re producing on Facebook and browse other examples from their peers.

Unlike Myspace which spent significant resources building one-off customized advertising programs, Facebook has focused on creating the largest canvas and letting the advertisers bring the paint brushes and paint.  Facebook Studios is designed to provide inspiration by highlighting the best campaigns (based on the “likes”), as well as additional materials that advertisers can use to better leverage the Facebook platform.

Throughout the history of media, the advertising dollars have followed where the eyeballs are, and we continue to be encouraged by Facebook’s scalable approach to monetization which is appealing to advertisers (see Guest Posts below from Brand Affinity Technologies and Appssavvy) without negatively impacting the user experience.

 

 

Celebrity Influence – and Economy – Grows Online

Guest Post by Ryan Steelberg, CEO Brand Affinity Technologies

Over the last two years, we’ve seen a seismic change in the relationship between celebrities and fans. Online media provides 24/7 access to news, gossip, and anything and everything consumers want to know about their favorite celebrities. Social media takes this dynamic further: people can easily follow commentary directly from stars on Facebook and Twitter.

 

Brand Affinity Technologies (BAT) has created mechanisms for brands, media companies, and celebrities themselves to monetize this evolving celeb/fan relationship. (We’ve also started to quantify this changing relationship: in a recent survey, we confirmed that 61% of Americans feel more connected to celebrities because of online media and tools.)

Proof point: endorsements ignite social media advertising

To get a sense of the power of celebrities – and a taste of the business opportunity tied to the celeb/fan relationship ─ consider how celebrities boost social media performance.

BAT recently conducted the largest analysis of endorsed and non-endorsed social media advertising to-date. We compared more than 200 Facebook and Twitter endorsements with similar Facebook ads that did not feature celebrities, and found that – for the same spend – messages from celebrities delivered monumental performance lifts.  Click-through rates jumped significantly, and the cost-per-action improved dramatically:

Where we’re headed: deep engagement, personal interaction, meaningful brand opportunities

As the data reveals, much of the hype over celebrity social media endorsements is well-deserved. However, the power of celebrity as a business driver goes far beyond endorsements.  BAT has recently launched a new platform that brings online celebrity engagement to consumers beyond the comparatively closed worlds of Facebook and Twitter.

More than 800,000 fans have downloaded Fantapper since it became available in December 2010, making it one of the fastest growing Web downloads released – outpacing Twitter in early adoption rate. In addition to the free download, leading websites – reaching more than 100 million unique users every month – run the Fantapper application.

Fantapper changes the way consumers experience celebrity and sports content – giving people more of what they want, at the moment they are interested. Fantapper populates celebrity and athlete images and stories – on any website – with relevant, interactive apps, giving people always-on access to YouTube videos, exclusive celebrity info, news, Twitter and Facebook feeds, and more.

  • Celebrities benefit as editorial content now opens doors to their Twitter and Facebook feeds, monetization channels (iTunes for musicians, etc.), and in some cases, custom content developed for Fantapper. For the first time, celebrities gain real estate within the content that features them ─ wherever it appears.
  • Consumers experience content in an entirely new way. Immediately, the celebrity and sports content they crave becomes engaging and interactive – giving people what they want at the moment it interests them.
  • Advertisers benefit by being able to insert their brands at the point of engagement and interactivity, as well as include custom apps of their own.  Advertisers such as PepsiCo, Versus & Intuit have created custom Fantapper apps that drive traffic to their sites and include interactive elements such as polls and contests.
  • Websites benefit by providing a better experience for their communities and thus users spend more time on their pages.

As an example, if you’re reading about Kirstie Alley as she competes on Dancing with the Stars, Fantapper appears and provides instant access to related tweets, news stories, video clips – all without leaving the page you’re on.

The takeaway

Consumer passion for celebrity and sports content is boundless – and drives a significant amount of online activity. Consider that 20 months after launch, Twitter had 100k followers; that number went to several million almost immediately once celebs got involved.

Nothing demonstrates the insatiable hunger for celebrity and sports content better than Fantapper. Based on what we’re seeing in terms of the time that people choose to spend interacting with Fantapper apps, there is no saturation point in sight in terms of the ability for celebrities to drive engagement.

Online and social media have changed the relationship between celebrities and fans – creating a closer relationship and amplifying celebrities’ ability to influence consumers.  There is a tremendous market opportunity for brands, media outlets and celebrities that capitalize on this new dynamic.

 

 

Democratizing Media: Partnering With BitTorrent To Distribute My Novel Captive

Guest Post by Megan Lisa Jones, Author of “Captive”

My alternate title to this post was How to build a global audience in days, and the story begins with over 400,000 downloads in the first twelve days of the promotion.

Captive was the first book chosen in BitTorrent’s new artist program.

BitTorrent is a peer-to-peer file sharing protocol with an active user base of over 100 million people in which, essentially, the more people downloading a file the faster it downloads.  The company has promoted films, shows and bands prior to Captive being in the spotlight.  The last band they chose, Sick of Sarah, had 1.5 million downloads in about six weeks.

Captive is a thriller in which George, a psychologist and interrogator, must get critical information from Khalil, a hardened Algerian terrorist.  Meanwhile, a young Saudi chemistry student is building a related string of bombs when not attending his classes at UCLA.  The book is more pertinent today than when I started writing due to the unrest throughout Northern Africa and the Middle East.

I’m a new writer with a first-time book and can’t afford the type of marketing campaign more established thriller authors have (plus, they already have large built-in audiences).  Despite BitTorrent’s success distributing other media, I was uncertain with respect to potential audience size for a novel since it was limited to those who read English.  Being the first novel promoted, I couldn’t evaluate expected audience based on historical results.

I wanted to reach an audience that would be interested in and enjoy Captive.  I also wanted to do it quickly.  Being from the tech world by birth and profession, I know and understand the business models tech and Internet start-ups are using to build their businesses and scale online.  And it’s more than just “social media marketing”.  Also, I know that model better than I understand the media windows and ins and outs of publishing (which seem so expensive).  But ─ let’s also not ignore that ─ traditional media businesses are struggling while Internet-based social networkers and gamers are scaling.  Media is dependent on scale and writing books is a business like any other.

Then I lucked into the experts.  The people at BitTorrent blow my mind.  The traffic from their promotion soared at announcement and thus far hasn’t let up.  I can’t fully grasp how they reached “my” audience so quickly.  The initial press release somehow lit a fire.  There is a little Twitter, some Facebook and soaring traffic to my site and blogs.  News articles and blogs covering the promotion also helped.  But not over 340,000 worth of audience.

And that’s where the peer-to-peer concept matters.  Sure, some of my audience wants (and does…thanks for the emails and other messages, by the way) to connect with me.  But I’m guessing they would rather discuss the book with each other.  That’s what I do when I read a book I really like or find a great offer.

I’ve had global traffic from most regions of the world including South Africa, to Moscow, to Pakistan, Iraq and Thailand.  I’ve reached Chile, most of the US and Europe and large swaths of Asia.  Australia and New Zealand.  BitTorrent has helped me reach countries (China, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Tunisia, Algeria and Egypt) where a book that addresses terrorism wouldn’t be published.

BitTorrent promotion has allowed Captive to be real media…something with a message that is being shared by all people regardless of where they reside.  And, in this case, the sharing literally was person to person.  No book sitting on a shelf is doing as much.

One other note, I’ve written about the monetization aspect (or lack thereof) of the promotion on both my blogs so won’t belabor the discussion here.  But I will say that I’m getting contacted by numerous readers about the release date of the sequel (2012 unless I start writing faster).  Will they pay for it?  Some will.  Some won’t.  For example, I just told someone about the ending deadline for the promotion.  They told me they’d rather order a hard copy from Amazon.

Moreover, I do trust the streets…they have, do, and will pay for content when the price is fair and the content what they value.  But first, before I can worry about money, I need to find my audience so I can keep reaching and satisfying them in the future.  Doesn’t any value proposition ultimately rely on giving your customer or audience what they want and making them happy?